One of the tragedies that shook the world in 2017 was the London Grenfell Tower fire. Even though the subsequent government inquiry did not specifically cite cladding as the main cause of the rapid spread of the fire, it was one of the elements of the tragedy that received a lot of scrutiny. For this reason, there have been concerns about how safe cladding is. In this article, we attempt to answer hat question and tell you everything you need to know about hos safe cladding is.
The quick answer to that question is yes, but it depends on a variety of factors. One of the key things to keep in mind is that there are many different types of cladding materials out there. Even when it comes to PVC cladding, there are many different types and each of those have different properties. For example, the cladding used at Grenfell was a highly combustible aluminum composite which perhaps led to the speculation that the cladding played a role in the spread of the fire. These days, there are better cladding materials out there, most of which are designed to be fire-resistant.
If you are thinking about fitting external cladding in your building, and you are not sure about the safety component of the material, here are some steps you can take.
One of the advantages of working with cladding experts is that you are able to get excellent advice about the combustibility of the cladding material that you have in mind. Certain cladding materials such as what was used at Grenfell are being replaced with materials such as metal, stone and others. Working with a cladding expert means that you get to use fire-resistant cladding material that will still give you all the design options and other benefits that you are looking for in your cladding.
Another reason why you need to work with a cladding expert is the quality of craftsmanship that will go into installing your cladding. Properly installed cladding will protect your structure from the elements, ensuring that the gap between the cladding and the wall is the right width. This is because if this is not one properly, the gap becomes a conduit that traps smoke in case of a fire, leading to smoke inhalation issues by anyone in the building. The smoke may also hinder the ability of people inside the building to evacuate quickly and may even present firefighters from helping in the evacuation process due to visibility issues.
Before embarking on a cladding project, it may be important to take time to understand what options exist and what risks they come with. For example, some cladding material have a fire resistance rating and understanding what this rating means as far as fire protection is concerned can help make the decision easier. At the end of the day, the decision will come down to the best fire protection you can get for your building and all the other benefits that cladding offers such as thermal insulation and better aesthetics.
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